While every region of the United States has its own quirks and identity, some customs are common throughout the nation. These traditions might seem normal for people within the US, but to the rest of the world, those things are truly bizarre. From giving generous tips all the time to the massive portion sizes that make up every meal these are the things that Americans do that freak everyone else out. Scroll down to see the list of the weirdest things that Americans are doing that the rest of the world will never understand. You will be shocked to find out how the rest of the world really thinks about the good ‘ol US of A!
Smiling At Strangers
Many people would say it is even more bizarre to question the politeness of American tourists, but the question has to be asked: why do Americans smile at strangers that they will never know and never see again in their lives?
It doesn’t make sense to most people, and while most Americans would smile back, people from other countries would probably be weirded out by a random person smiling at them. People might even put extra space between them and the person giving them the creepy smile.
Being So Impressed With Ancient History
Compared to countries around the world, the US is pretty young, and people around the world tend to forget about that when they see Americans overjoyed to look at ancient historical sites.
The awe and wonder Americans have for artifacts and historical sites baffle people outside of the country. We can’t help that we don’t have things that are thousands of years old within our own nation.
Wearing Shorts All Year Round
There is one sure-fire way to tell pick an American out of a crowd in a foreign place, and that is by looking for the person who is wearing shorts at the strangest times of the year. We don’t know why they do this, but it seems to be a common thing for American tourists.
While there is nothing wrong with wearing shorts when it is seasonally appropriate, it’s not normal to see someone’s knee caps when it’s freezing or raining. Regardless of the weather, it seems Americans have lost all feeling to any temperature when they leave the States.
Expecting Everyone To Speak English
While we do not deny that English is a universal language that is spoken by millions of people worldwide, that doesn’t mean that everyone in every country is expected to speak it just because there are American tourists.
Many American tourists don’t understand that and get frustrated when they go to other countries and can’t speak the language. Google translate is a lifesaver, and it can help with basic words and phrases instead of being rude.
Telling People Exactly What Town They Are From
If you have ever asked an American, “Where are you from in the states,” you will probably get a response along the lines of, “I’m from Smalltown, Nebraska.” It is usually a place you have never heard of, but Americans think people know every town in every state.
With so many states and places to remember, they can all easily blur together. Therefore when a tourist says, “I’m from Ramsey,” most people won’t know whether that is north, south, east, west, or not even in the country. Sometimes specificity isn’t useful.
Wearing Socks And Sandals
One trend we have never understood, even as Americans, is wearing socks and sandals. If the person wants to cover their feet, wouldn’t it be smarter to wear sneakers instead? Usually, people wear sandals to let their feet breathe, so what is the point of adding sandals?
We don’t know what possessed Americans to start this trend, but it is a bizarre look. At least if they wear strappy sandals, they won’t get tan lines, but they will get a sock tan, and we don’t know what is worse.
The Strange Obsession With Ranch Dressing
Ranch dressing is about as American as playing football, using Fahrenheit, and going broke to pay for college. Americans are obsessed with ranch, and could probably add it onto any dish from pizza and chicken fingers to ranch-flavored soda.
As an American, there is something just so satisfying about pairing ranch with different foods. However, it will be hard to find our beloved dipping sauce in other countries because people don’t like or understand why it is such a good addition to meals.
People Are Paid To Greet You At The Store
One of the strangest things people see when they come to America for the first time is the people paid just to greet you at the store. It is not like you are walking into someone’s home, you are going to pick up groceries, so why is there a need to have someone welcome you?
Even some Americans don’t understand the concept of greeters, but they bring some cheer to the mundane task of shopping. Maybe stores think if customers are welcomed into the store, they are less likely to steal.
School Lunches Are Inedible
School lunches around the world are all different. Each country has its own version of the classic cafeteria lunch, but America probably has the most inedible-looking options. Something about nachos and milk at 11 in the morning just doesn’t sit right with most people.
From mystery meats to things that look like sludge, people from other countries don’t understand why anyone would want to buy their lunch from the school cafeteria. Even most Americans are grossed out by the things they once had to eat in grade school.
Massive Gaps In Bathroom Stall Doors
Have you ever gone into a public restroom and thought, “This experience would be better if I could make eye contact with the person on the other side of the door?” We are going to guess most people have not had that thought because the bathroom is the place you are supposed to have privacy.
In every other country, the bathroom stalls don’t have large gaps, and you can do your business in peace. Going into a public restroom in the States is like wondering who is going to come for the show because anyone can watch you.
Sharing A Dorm Room With A Complete Stranger
When people go to school in the states, they are expected to share a tiny closet-sized room with a complete stranger or two sometimes. There is absolutely no privacy, and who wants to be present for another teenager’s sexual awakening?
In other places people live at home or rent apartments with friends, but they usually don’t get shoved into dorm rooms with strangers. People from around the world are confused when they see how American college students live, and we don’t blame them because we didn’t understand the concept either.
Wearing Hawaiian Shirts On Vacation Outside Of Hawaii
Although Hawaii is part of the US, it seems that those people who have never even been to Hawaii like to whip out their brightly colored button-up shirts when they go abroad, and it has become a tourist stereotype.
Normally, the Hawaiian shirt is paired with cargo shorts, a baseball hat, and a large backpack. Oh, and we can’t forget the socks with sandals. You can pick an American tourist out of the crowd by spotting whoever is wearing this get-up.
The Money Is All The Same Color
American dollars may be powerful, but they are anything but exciting. In most countries, money has different colors and sizes for each value with metallic accents that are much nicer to look at than the green and black design.
For people who come into the country and have to use the bills, it is hard for them to distinguish the different values when they have to grab them out of their wallets quickly.
Eating Mega-Sized Meals
It’s no secret that people in America love food. It is so exciting to travel around the world trying different cuisines from every culture. It is an experience most people only get to do once, and it is something they will never forget.
When people from America leave the States, they are confused by the smaller portion sizes. In countries with tapas or Mediterranean food, they ask for larger portions because they are not used to eating such small meals.
The Only Country That Uses The Imperial Measurement System
We don’t know why America is the only country in the world that still uses the imperial system to measure things, but we seem to be stubborn about learning the metric system when we leave the States. It’s almost as if we are allergic to the metric system.
Everyone else in the world has adopted a different measuring system, and this has probably caused some issues when people are working between different countries. We are sure Americans have run into trouble when they leave the country and can’t figure out how to measure anything.
Taking Leftovers Home From Restaurants
Because the portions in America are so large, there is usually food left over to take home, which means they get doggy bags. To be fair, this is a custom that should be commended because people aren’t wasting food that is left on their plates.
When you ask if you can take the leftovers to go in other countries, you might get a funny look because it is not a request they usually hear. Many restaurants in Europe will find it rude if you ask such a thing.
Putting More Ice Than Liquid In Drinks
Putting ice in almost every drink is something only Americans are used to. Many countries write off ice because it waters down the drinks in addition to having questionable origins. It also takes space away from the actual drinks.
Some places offer a small amount of ice in drinks, but it doesn’t take up most of the cup, like the cold drinks from Starbucks. It’s not as fun to pay for a pricy drink and then have most of the cup be filled with ice, so we understand why other places think it’s weird.
Giving People A Thumbs Up
“Hey dude, thumbs up!” Did you know that a thumbs up is not an international sign? As Americans, we didn’t know that people don’t use this hand gesture in other places. Next time you leave the States, you might want to think twice about using that hand gesture because it could mean something else.
In some countries across the globe, a thumbs-up could be a sign of cursing, like giving someone the middle finger, so you might not leave with your thumb intact. Just a warning for the next time you travel.
Not Including Sales Tax On Price Tags
One of the biggest complaints people have about the States is that the price tags on every item do not include sales tax. When foreigners come for a little retail therapy because things are generally cheaper, they should be warned that the prices are not what they seem.
The idea that sales tax is not incorporated into the price until you are at the register is sneaky. Some Americans have learned to calculate the price when they look at the item, but it is a confusing system.
Having A “World” Series And Only Including The United States
Have you ever wondered why the World Series is called the World Series if it only involves baseball teams from within the United States? Are we that self-absorbed that we think the world revolves around our 50 states, so we can use the title World Series?
It is only called the World Series because a team from the National League and the American League decided to have a tournament, but both of the teams were in the United States. Therefore, we are going to go with our original theory that Americans think the world revolves around the US.
Writing The Date In The Format Day-Month-Year
The US always has to be different from everyone else, even when it comes to something as simple as writing the date differently. In most of the world, it is written day-month-year, but in the US, it is written month-day-year.
The reason for this difference is still a mystery, but it does throw people off when they leave the states and have to write the date on something. You can probably guess that people have had to cross out many incorrect dates because of this difference.
Having Baby Showers
While baby showers are becoming bigger and more extravagant every year, this seems to only be something people enjoy in the states. People in the US must have baby fever from the pregnancy announcement to the actual birth.
Baby showers in the US are commonplace, but other countries find them odd because they consider it bad luck to celebrate the baby before they are born. It also is just too over-the-top for most people.
Partying With Red Solo Cups
“Red solo cup, I fill you up, let’s have a party!” While red Solo cups are a staple in the world of college and outdoor parties in America, the rest of the world scratches their heads when we whip these out. They don’t have an issue with it, but it’s fascinating.
College parties are synonymous with red cups because we know how to party in style, and we know what kind of cups are the most ideal for beer pong. If they aren’t red and don’t have the lines for measuring each type of drink, Americans want no part in them.
Joining A Sorority
Since sororities are only in America, it is one obvious thing that the rest of the world finds odd. People don’t understand why college students pay tons of money to make friends and wear Greek letters. It is fascinating for people in other countries to hear about being in a fraternity or sorority though.
Around the world, people probably only hear about them when there is a hazing accident in the news, but they do have some benefits like post-college job connections. They also have to do charity work, so at least the community is benefiting from their presence.
Tipping Almost Everyone
If you don’t leave a tip in the United States, you are considered a rude person, and it’s not hard to understand why. Servers in the US do not make enough money to live solely on their paycheck, so they rely on tips to boost their income.
Outside of the US, most places include a service charge in the bill already, so it seems that you are just throwing around money if you tip on top of that. Also, servers in other countries make a much better wage than those in the US.
Showing Off The Flag
Besides Hawaiian shirts, wearing shorts unseasonally, or socks with sandals, you can spot an American when you see someone wearing an American flag. Stripes and stars happen to be our favorite pattern, and no one can say we don’t have national pride.
While American patriotism is often endearing, it is not something you will find across the globe. Therefore, when you step off a plane decked out in stars and stripes, people are going to give you some bizarre stares.
Tailgating For Sports Games
There is one thing in American culture that gets us more excited than anything else – tailgating. When it comes to college or professional sports games, some people are there more for the tailgate rather than the actual game.
The brews, barbecue, and vibes are what people get so excited about, but outsiders have no idea why people would come so early before the game actually begins. People also find it odd that Americans prepare such elaborate setups.
Trick-Or-Treating For Halloween
The US’ take on Halloween has only begun to catch on outside of the States, but other people still find it bizarre. People also say it is another way for Americans to commercialize every holiday.
We think other countries are jealous of what we have going on because no other place has a holiday where you can knock on a stranger’s door and they give you candy for free. However, when we write out the concept, it actually does seem rather sketchy.
Advertising Everything And Anything
In America, we don’t care what the product is, we probably have an advertisement for it. From prescription drugs to lawyers, everyone has a billboard, bench sign, or a commercial to show off what they have to offer, but others don’t understand it.
The thing people really don’t understand is why the US has so many drug advertisements. When people watch TV in America, they are confused by the commercials of couples prancing through fields, and then a list of side effects that is said at the end.
Using Coffee Creamer
Most people outside of the United States use some kind of milk in their coffee, but within the states, we have something called creamer. It’s a mystery what it actually is, but we know it is filled with sugar and not good for you.
The US is not known for having the most delectable coffee options like some European or South American countries, so we have to use something strong to cover up the taste of burnt beans or watered-down brew.
Eating Peanut Butter And Jelly
Peanut butter and jelly has to be one of the most classic combinations in the US. We love to mix the salty and sweet, but did you know it is only a common combination in the States? We don’t know why more people aren’t trying this perfect combination, but others find it strange.
Some people don’t know if jelly is the same thing as jam and why these two things are eaten for lunch past the age of five, but we don’t care. We are proud of our all-American classic PB&J, and we will never give that up.
Needing Variety Of Every Product
Americans can’t just have one type of thing; we need multiple options. Everything in the grocery store has to come in a billion different flavors and varieties that people don’t know which to pick when they walk through the store’s aisles.
Maybe we just like to have options because we like to change things up instead of sticking to the same breakfast cereal each morning. Whatever the case is, when you leave the US, you miss all the options, and it’s hard to get used to.
Turning Right On Red
When it comes to the rules of the road, there are plenty of differences between each country. One of these prominent rules is that Americans are allowed to turn right on a red light.
As long as there isn’t a sign saying there is no right on red, and there are no oncoming cars, people can go through a red light to turn right. It boggles the minds of foreigners who are used to waiting for the green arrow that allows them to go.
Having Different Laws In Each State
If you really think about it, this is something Americans should find odd as well. What is the deal with having different laws in each state, and how are people supposed to remember them when they travel?
When you really take a step back, if America is supposed to be a united country, wouldn’t they have the same laws for all the states? Things are never that simple in the US, and it’s almost like we enjoy making our lives more difficult.
Having School Mascots
If you have ever watched any American movie or TV show that takes place in a high school, you have probably seen how excited people get when their school mascot comes onto the field or court.
The sports games are so hyped up, and everyone seems to go nuts when the person in a lion costume steps out from the locker room to show off their unique dance moves. Do people love the animal, or are they just excited for the person in the suit?
Pointy Water Cups
It is important to stay hydrated, right? We love that in every place in the US, you can usually find a water cooler so people can refresh themselves, but what is with those ice cream cone-shaped cups?
These paper cups are strange in every single way because they don’t hold much water, you can’t put them down anywhere, and they basically disintegrate in your hands. Maybe they are fun for a moment, but not very practical.
Sugar In Every Drink
In a similar fashion to the way we eat, America’s drinking culture isn’t much healthier. We love a good soda or ice cream every once in a while, but it seems like options are always loaded with sugar.
Non-Americans have brought up that there is sugar in pretty much every drink that isn’t water, and it boggles their minds. Even if it isn’t real sugar, there is artificial sweetener added. We can’t deny that we used to love Vitamin Water back in the day, though.
Sitting In The Back Seat
If you live in America, you will know that sitting in the back seat of a taxi or Uber is commonplace because you have never seen someone in a movie hail a cab and hop in the front seat with the driver. Because of this, American tourists take this habit abroad with them.
However, that often gets them strange looks from taxi drivers because they are used to people sitting in the front seat. It might even be considered rude. As Americans, it would be weird to join the taxi driver upfront if you aren’t looking to have a conversation.
Expecting Free Refills
Here is something that is pretty common in American eateries, although not all of them. It is normal for some dining establishments to offer their customers free drink refills.
As a result, when Americans go abroad, they are in for an annoying surprise when they have to pay for every cup they drink. Having free refills outside of America is pretty much unheard of, and if there is someplace that does that, please let us know.
Sticking To Strict Drinking Rules
In addition to being one of the only countries that prohibit people not to legally drink until they turn 21, some places across the US still abide by Prohibition-era laws. They restrict the sale of beer, wine, and liquor on certain days of the week.
It is also one of the only places that will card someone even if they look much older than 21. A person could be well into their 50’s and they will still be asked for ID because the laws are so strict in the those states.
Driving Across The Country For Vacation
It’s a pretty big country with almost every kind of landscape imaginable. There are tons of different cultures to experience, local foods to try, and regional slang to learn. Not to mention the famous tourist sites scattered around that every American feels they have a duty to visit before they die. And most amazingly, almost half of the population has never left the United States.
With so much to see within the country, it’s understandable why people haul their families around for weeks at a time living out of a camper van. Besides, you can just drive to Vegas and see the Eiffel Tower there, so why go all the way to Paris?